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posted on 15 May 2017

Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Up,Oil Jumps, Gold, Dollar, Euro Steady, Cyber Alert, GOP Healthcare, Comey Tapes, Flynn Subpoena, Israel Autocracy, China Buying US Oil And Gas, And More

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Early Bird Headlines 15 May 2017

Econintersect: Here are some of the headlines we found to help you start your day. For more headlines see our afternoon feature for GEI members, What We Read Today, which has many more headlines and a number of article discussions to keep you abreast of what we have found interesting.

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Global

asia.pac.2017.may.15

  • New Wave of Ransom Threats Seen in Unprecedented Global Attack (Bloomberg) An unrivaled global cyber-attack is poised to continue claiming victims Monday as people return to work and turn on their desktop computers, even as hospitals and other facilities gained the upper hand against the first wave. More than 200,000 computers in at least 150 countries have so far been infected, according to Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency. The U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre said new cases of so-called ransomware are possible “at a significant scale".

  • Oil jumps after Saudis, Russia say supply cut to be extended to March 2018 (CNBC) Oil prices jumped by over 1.5% on Monday after the Saudi Arabian and Russian energy ministers said in a joint statement that an OPEC-led crude production cut would be extended from the middle of this year until March 2018. International Brent crude futures were at $51.63 per barrel at 0255 GMT, up $0.79 cents, or 1.6%, from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $48.61 per barrel, up $0.77, or 1.6%.

U.S.

  • Rival Senate healthcare group seeks to make waves (The Hill) A rival group of Republican senators is seeking leverage to influence the direction of the Senate’s ObamaCare replacement bill. The group, led by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), has been meeting “a couple times a week," according to Sen. Shelly Moore Capitol (R-W.Va.).

Cassidy is a physician and Collins is a former state insurance commissioner. Both have been outspoken opponents of the House-passed American Healthcare Act, and have co-sponsored their own version of an ObamaCare repeal bill called the Patient Freedom Act.

Cassidy told The Hill he and Collins have been meeting with Senate leaders to talk about their legislation. However, he noted the politics of the Senate mean that every member’s voice matters.

“When you only have 52 senators, everybody has significant leverage. That tight vote margin means everyone is essential," Cassidy said.

The main GOP working group on healthcare includes 13 men backed by Senate leadership who are seeking to bridge the divide between conservatives and centrists.

  • U.S. lawmakers ask Trump to turn over any Comey tapes (Reuters) U.S. lawmakers on Sunday called on President Donald Trump to turn over any tapes of conversations with fired FBI chief James Comey, potentially setting up a showdown with the White House as Democrats considered a boycott of the vote on Comey's replacement. In a highly unusual move, Trump last week appeared to suggest on Twitter that he might have tapes of conversations with Comey and warned the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation against talking to the media. Trump and a White House spokesman declined to confirm or deny whether such tapes exist. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the White House must "clear the air" about whether there are any taped conversations.

  • Fed Officials Test New Argument for Tightening: Protect the Poor (Bloomberg) During a speech last month, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Esther George said she was “not as enthusiastic or encouraged as some when I see inflation moving higher" because “inflation is a tax and those least able to afford it generally suffer the most".

She was referring in particular to rental inflation, which she said could continue rising if the Fed doesn’t take steps to tighten monetary conditions. And while the idea of inflation as a tax that hits the poor the hardest is not a new one, its role in the current debate over what to do with interest rates marks a bit of a twist from recent years.

  • Flynn subpoena sets up battle between White House, Congress (The Hill) The Senate Intelligence Committee’s subpoena of Michael Flynn’s private documents sets up a potential battle between the legislative and executive branches over whether the Justice Department will enforce Congress’s will. The Justice Department is charged with enforcing congressional subpoenas. But it is led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the Flynn subpoenas are related to investigations of Russia’s involvement in last year’s election, a sore spot for President Trump. Democrats are already making their fears known. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Justice Department said :

“I worried about that from the start, the fact that we don’t have cooperation between the executive branch and the legislative branch raises questions about how far we can go."

  • Bipartisan View Was Emerging on Sentencing. Then Came Jeff Sessions. (The New York Times) As a senator, Jeff Sessions was such a conservative outlier on criminal justice issues that he pushed other Republicans to the forefront of his campaign to block a sentencing overhaul, figuring they would be taken more seriously. Now Mr. Sessions is attorney general and need not take a back seat to anyone when it comes to imposing his ultratough-on-crime views. The effect of his transition from being just one of 535 in Congress to being top dog at the Justice Department was underscored on Friday when he ordered federal prosecutors to make sure they threw the book at criminal defendants and pursued the toughest penalties possible.

  • Preet Bharara tweets: Trump did have his ‘wires tapped’ (The Hill) Preet Bharara, a former U.S. attorney who was fired by President Trump, tweeted at the president on Saturday night about his claims of being "wire tapped" in Trump Tower. Bharara wrote Trump apparently "DID have his "wires tapped" in Trump Tower. Case closed" along with a link to a Wall Street Journal article headlined, "Former employees of Donald Trump say he sometimes taped phone conversations in Trump Tower."

EU

Click for large image.

euro.2017.may.15

UK

This raises interesting questions about SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s strategy in presenting this as a “two-horse race" between the SNP and the Conservatives in which only an SNP vote can hold the Tories to account at Westminster. On the one hand, it should play well with Yes voters among whom the Tories remain widely reviled. On the other hand, it probably overestimates how toxic the Conservatives are - or indeed ever were - among No voters.

Israel

  • After 49 Years, This Is How Israel's Government Shut Down Its Public Broadcaster With Hours' Notice (Haaretz) The state-run Israel Broadcasting Authority was notified hours before Tuesday's broadcast that "Mabat LaHadashot" (A glance at the news), which has been on air for 49 years, was to be shut down. Choking back tears, Channel 1 News anchor Geula Even announced on air that Mabat's broadcast would be its last. The program's staff turned out for a tearful send-off and sang the national anthem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the broadcaster's shutdown is part of reforms to create a new replacement organization. But staffers say Netanyahu was unhappy with what he considered critical coverage and is trying to control the media.

Singapore

  • Singapore Home Sales in April More Than Double From Year Ago (Bloomberg) Singapore home sales more than doubled in April from a year earlier as homebuyer sentiment rallied after the government rolled back some property curbs following a three-year slide in prices. An index tracking private residential prices fell 0.4% in the three months ended March from the previous quarter, according to data from the authority on April 28. Home values have dropped 11.% from their 2013 peak.

China

  • China Eyes U.S. Energy After Inking $20 Billion in Deals (Bloomberg) China is setting its sights on U.S. energy as a growing reliance on imports forces it to look beyond traditional suppliers, according to the head of the country’s biggest oil and gas company. China National Petroleum Corp. will import more crude oil and natural gas from the U.S. and will consider participating in America’s growing liquefied natural gas export industry, Chairman Wang Yilin said in an interview Sunday with Bloomberg TV on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. The energy giant will sign $20 billion in deals during the two-day event, a meeting of countries involved in China’s initiative to connect Europe, Asia and Africa through infrastructure and investment.

  • Kushner Real Estate Project Still Seeking First Chinese Investor (Bloomberg) A real-estate project linked to U.S. presidential adviser Jared Kushner’s family hasn’t attracted any early financial commitments after investor presentations in four different Chinese cities, an organizer said. About 50 people attended a presentation Sunday at the Four Seasons Hotel in the southeastern city of Guangzhou that was sponsored by QWOS Group, an immigration consulting company focusing on special visa programs. Similar events in Beijing and Shanghai last week generated controversy after Kushner’s sister, Nicole Meyer, invoked his work for President Donald Trump, his father-in-law.

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